Police confirm 46 away supporters are in custody after violent scenes saw Legia Warsaw fans – four of which they say were carrying KNIVES – set an officer on fire and injure three others ahead of clash with Aston Villa
EuropaLeague

Police confirm 46 away supporters are in custody after violent scenes saw Legia Warsaw fans – four of which they say were carrying KNIVES – set an officer on fire and injure three others ahead of clash with Aston Villa

Jan 2, 2024

Police have confirmed that 46 away supporters have been arrested after violent scenes marred Aston Villa‘s 2-1 win over Legia Warsaw on Thursday.

Polish football hooligans caused havoc last night as fans set a police officer on fire and injured three others while launching flares before facing the Midlands club in the Europa League.

One officer who was engulfed by flames after being hit by a flare suffered burns and has since been recovering in hospital. 

West Midlands police released a statement on Friday morning to provide an update on the arrests, revealing all the suspects held in custody are away fans and that four of the individuals were carrying knives.

‘We’ve now got 46 people in custody following last night’s violence involving away fans outside Villa Park,’ police confirmed.

Football hooligans from Polish side Legia Warsaw attacked police officers outside Villa Park

Football hooligans from Polish side Legia Warsaw attacked police officers outside Villa Park

One police officer was hit by a flare thrown by the hooligans and was engulfed by flames

 One police officer was hit by a flare thrown by the hooligans and was engulfed by flames

The officer was taken to hospital and treated for burns - with police now confirming that 46 away supporters have been held in custody following the violent scenes outside the stadium

The officer was taken to hospital and treated for burns – with police now confirming that 46 away supporters have been held in custody following the violent scenes outside the stadium

‘Officers faced 90 minutes of sustained violence, and four were injured. We’re proud of our officers, and thank Aston Villa fans for their support.

‘Of the suspects, 41 of those were arrested for violent disorder, four for possession of a knife/offensive weapon, and four for assaulting emergency workers. 

‘All of those arrested are away fans, and we’ll be working hard to charge and remand those suspects where we can today.’

UEFA also released a statement on Friday, which read: ‘UEFA strongly condemns the unacceptable violence which occurred around the Aston Villa v Legia Warsaw match. 

‘UEFA is in the process of gathering all official reports from the game before deciding on potential next steps.’

Away fans were refused entry into the stadium as a result of the violence, with some managing to launch containers of beer into the home end from outside. 

A small group were able to break in and could be heard cheering from behind a wall when Legia scored a goal.

All of the Polish fans were refused entry into the stadium following the disgraceful scenes

All of the Polish fans were refused entry into the stadium following the disgraceful scenes 

Police horses watch on as officers in riot gear confront the group of thugs in Birmingham

Police horses watch on as officers in riot gear confront the group of thugs in Birmingham 

A police horse raises its front legs during the trouble outside Villa Park on Thursday night

A police horse raises its front legs during the trouble outside Villa Park on Thursday night 

Police told the public to stay away from Witton Lane as violence escalated to extreme levels

Police told the public to stay away from Witton Lane as violence escalated to extreme levels

Legia supporters let off flares as they were penned in by the wall of local police officers

Legia supporters let off flares as they were penned in by the wall of local police officers

West Midlands Police released a further statement shortly before midnight which confirmed they had arrested 39 people - a number that has now risen to 46 with all being away fans

West Midlands Police released a further statement shortly before midnight which confirmed they had arrested 39 people – a number that has now risen to 46 with all being away fans

West Midlands Police hit out at the 'disgusting and highly dangerous scenes', as did UEFA

West Midlands Police hit out at the ‘disgusting and highly dangerous scenes’, as did UEFA

Legia Warsaw fans were stopped from going into the stadium following the chaos and unrest

Legia Warsaw fans were stopped from going into the stadium following the chaos and unrest 

Police revealed on Friday that four Legia fans were carrying knives of offensive weapons

Police revealed on Friday that four Legia fans were carrying knives of offensive weapons 

Birmingham Police confirmed three officers were injured following the ugly scenes

Birmingham Police confirmed three officers were injured following the ugly scenes

A police officer helps an injured colleague away from the violent and dangerous scenes

A police officer helps an injured colleague away from the violent and dangerous scenes

Legia Warsaw fans pelting Aston Villa supporters with projectiles from outside Villa Park

Legia Warsaw fans pelting Aston Villa supporters with projectiles from outside Villa Park

Legia Warsaw fans pelting Aston Villa supporters with projectiles from outside Villa Park 

One man was seen with a cup containing liquid that he then threw at the Aston Villa fans

One man was seen with a cup containing liquid that he then threw at the Aston Villa fans 

The fans forced their way in after West Midland’s Police posted on social media that they were not letting any Legia fans inside the stadium.

The police tweeted: ‘We’re currently unable to allow away fans into Villa Park following disorder outside the stadium which has seen missiles thrown at officers.

‘Three officers have already been injured & a significant policing operation continues. Please avoid Witton Lane where possible.’

The match commander, Chief Inspector Tim Robinson, added: ‘This should have been a great evening of football which was enjoyed by fans from both clubs.

‘Unfortunately, there were appalling scenes which saw away fans dangerously throw flares and other missiles at our officers.

‘We were there to help keep people safe, yet officers own safety was put at risk because of the deplorable actions of others.

‘Due to the extreme violence, there was no other choice but to prevent away fans entering the stadium. The safety of everyone is our priority, and clearly we had no other option.

‘There can never be a place for such appalling behaviour, and this is something ourselves and the wider community should never have to experience.’

Mail Sport understands that Legia were unhappy with their reduced allocation after Villa reduced their ticket allocation to just 890 based on advice from the police and Safety Advisory Group.

The Polish side had already had their away allocation reduced to 1,000 amid fears of disorder

The Polish side had already had their away allocation reduced to 1,000 amid fears of disorder 

A group of police officers line up outside Villa Park in preparation of the suspected unrest

A group of police officers line up outside Villa Park in preparation of the suspected unrest

UEFA rules allow the visiting team five per cent of the stadium’s capacity, which would equal 2,100 tickets at Villa Park.

In an official statement from Legia, they accused Villa of refusing to allocate tickets to away fans in accordance with UEFA regulations for a UEFA Europa Conference League match.

‘Instead of diffusing potential pre-match tensions, restrictive measures of Aston Villa F.C. as the host club needlessly exacerbate the atmosphere. In our view, such measures are counterproductive and unfounded,’ they wrote.

‘In a recent development, Aston Villa FC has firmly declined to adhere to UEFA competition regulations by refusing to allocate the stipulated pool of tickets for visiting supporters. 

‘Legia Warsaw had put forward a compromise solution, proposing an allocation of 1,700 tickets for their loyal supporters—a figure mirroring the number allocated to English club fans journeying to Warsaw. This proposal was officially accepted and duly documented in the UEFA delegate’s report, dated September 21.

There were no away fans inside Villa Park as a result when the game got underway at 8pm

There were no away fans inside Villa Park as a result when the game got underway at 8pm

Villa fans were seen looking over a wall at Legia fans that had managed to break into Villa Park

Villa fans were seen looking over a wall at Legia fans that had managed to break into Villa Park

Some were inside the stadium to celebrate Legia Warsaw's first half equaliser against Villa

Some were inside the stadium to celebrate Legia Warsaw’s first half equaliser against Villa

‘In light of this agreement, Legia Warsaw’s supporters commenced their preparations for the journey across the English Channel, incurring various costs, including airline tickets and hotel reservations.

‘However, on November 2, Legia Warsaw received an unexpected and revised decision regarding the ticket allocation, which blatantly disregarded the prior agreements. The number of tickets was slashed to a mere 890, representing a staggering reduction of over 50%.

‘Faced with this untenable situation, Legia Warsaw has lodged repeated appeals with Aston Villa F.C., urging them to honour the regulations set forth on September 21.’

Villa hit back with a statement of their own later in the evening, condemning the violent scenes on the streets outside their stadium.

Villa said: ‘Aston Villa Football Club can confirm that no away fans were allowed into Villa Park for this evening’s UEFA Europa Conference League fixture with Legia Warsaw on the advice of West Midlands Police following large-scale disorder outside the stadium caused by visiting supporters.

‘The UK safety authorities, UEFA and Aston Villa, communicated on November 2 that the ticket allocation for away fans for this fixture would be reduced to 1,002 on the advice of safety authorities as a result of previous large-scale disorder caused by Legia fans last month at AZ Alkmaar.

‘A number of Dutch police officers were injured during that disorder. As a consequence, UEFA banned Legia supporters from travelling to Mostar for their game against HSK Zrinjski.  

‘In spite of numerous requests for cooperation from Legia Warsaw concerning their travelling supporters, especially in the last two days, no assistance on the serious safety matter of away fans attending Villa Park was forthcoming from the visiting club.

‘The club has repeatedly, including this morning, raised concerns in conjunction with UEFA and all the relevant authorities to Legia that ticketless away supporters were attempting to attend Villa Park.’

Legia supporters had made their way towards Villa Park ahead of kick-off, but were met with a barrier and a wall of police officers wearing helmets with visors to protect themselves.

The fans appeared to grow frustrated and flares were let off as they were penned in by the police.

On the pitch, Villa avenged their earlier group defeat in Poland by beating Legia 2-1 thanks to goals from Moussa Diaby and Alex Moreno.

After the game, Legia manager Kosta Runjaic refused to be drawn on the events that occurred outside Villa Park.

‘I think its a different topic, it’s not my business. I’ve been in a big focus to lead the team,’ he said.

Legia manager Kosta Runjaic refused to condemn the actions of the away fans after the game

Legia manager Kosta Runjaic refused to condemn the actions of the away fans after the game

‘We represented Polish football in a good way, all other things outside the stadium I don’t want to comment.

‘We have great fans, they support us home and away. We can always count on them. So far since I’ve been at Legia I’ve had a good experience with our fans. I don’t know the content of it all happening.

‘I don’t know the details, which is why it’s better I don’t speak too much about it. Unfortunately our fans weren’t in the stadium and the atmosphere would have been better.

‘It’s not about the fans, it’s a pity but we can’t change it.’

IT’S ALL KICKING OFF! 

It’s All Kicking Off is an exciting new podcast from Mail Sport that promises a different take on Premier League football.

It is available on MailOnline, Mail+, YouTube, Apple Music and Spotify.


source

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *